Agencies working on tobacco accounts have been accused by MPs of
lacking any moral responsibility and literally ’getting away with
The Labour MP, Eileen Gordon, launched an attack on the four agencies
who gave evidence last month to an inquiry into the risks of smoking by
the Commons Health Select Committee - M&C Saatchi, CDP, Mustoe Merriman
Herring Levy and TBWA GGT Simons Palmer.
Gordon told the health secretary, Alan Milburn, at a meeting of the
committee this week that tobacco companies and agencies ’seem to have no
moral responsibility for what they are doing’.
Admitting her ’frustration’ at the evidence given by the tobacco and
advertising industries, she said: ’They should have some kind of
At the moment, they have no moral or financial responsibility for the
damage they cause to people’s health. As we said, 120,000 people die in
each year. Quite honestly, they are getting away with murder.’
Committee members expressed alarm at the agencies’ willingness to take
on tobacco accounts. They are likely to be criticised when the MPs
produce a report this summer.
Milburn said it was ’depressing’ that tobacco companies had refused to
admit the link between their product and cancer. He said the Government
was determined to ban tobacco advertising but admitted the move had run
into legal difficulties following the High Court challenge by cigarette
The health secretary said the Government had launched a pounds 50
million education anti-smoking drive through Abbott Mead Vickers BDDO
which, he said, was the biggest budget spent on the issue.